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GENTLEMEN (and LADIES) START YOUR ENGINES!

Posted: February 8th, 2011 by

NASCAR and the U.S. Navy teamed up for charity - photo ca 2002

NASCAR fans will all agree the Daytona 500 launches a year of NASCAR excitement, so its no surprise that Daytona [Beach], Florida gets a big boost in tourism during the month of February.  And, what better time to travel to their southern sandy shores, when the cold winds, and often times, snow, are chilling the air in the northern climes.

Park or drive on the white sands of Daytona Beach Shores - Flickr photo by gamiziuk

Although the Daytona 500 is a major highlight of tourism attractions in Daytona Beach, there are many reasons you might want to trek to the white sandy beaches along Florida’s east coast.

  • Driving your automobile ‘on the beach’

 

  • Attend at least one race at the Daytona International Speedway; there are a dozen events throughout the year, with the Daytona 500 being the most celebrated

 

  • Are you hungry? There are many restaurants that serve great seafood and most any cuisine you have a craving for.  Check out this website for Daytona Beach restaurants: http://daytona.beach.diningguide.com/

 

  • Historic White Hall, located on the campus of Bethune-Cookman College

    Visit a museum or other historic site; there are plenty, and some quite unique, like the Mary McLeod Bethune Home and White Hall, both national historic landmarks located on the campus of the Bethune-Cookman College, and the 1903 S.H. Kress Building

 

  • Play a few rounds of golf; with numerous championship golf courses you’re bound to find a favorite –http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/florida/daytonabeach/

 

  • Try your luck at catching a big one off the Sunglow Fishing Pier or just catch a few rays on the white sandy beach . . .

 

A typical sunrise along the shores of Daytona Beach, Florida's fun coast

  • Cotton candy anyone?  You won’t want to miss the Boardwalk Amusement Park and Pier for shopping, eating and a fun place for the whole family.

 

  • Spend the night in one of many small motels along the beach or on the Intercoastal Water Way where you’re sure to get a good night’s sleep

I Resolve To . . .

Posted: January 10th, 2011 by

We can thank Janus, a mythical king of early Rome (153 B.C.) for what some consider the beginning of the tradition of new year’s resolutions.  Fact is, the Romans named the first calendar month after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances.  Thus, Janus was always depicted with two faces, where the one on the front of the head was always looking forward, and the one on the back of the head was looking backward at the same time.

New Year’s resolutions can be traced back 4,000 years to ancient Babylonians, when they might have resolved to return borrowed farm equipment.

 Along with resolutions there are other traditions associated with the new year, such as food.  Greens, like cabbage or collards depict money where black eyed peas are said to bring good luck, and hog jowls or ham signify luck or prosperity.  Italians might eat lasagna, while Austrians may serve green peppermint ice cream in the shape of a cloverleaf.  Almost every culture has some type of food they traditionally serve on New Year’s day.

Non edible traditions vary as well.  For instance, in Wales, at the first toll of midnight the back door is opened and closed to release the old year and lock out bad luck; whereas at the twelfth stroke of the clock, the front door is opened to welcome in the new year and shepherd in good luck.  In Japan, homes are decorated in tribute to lucky gods.

Toasting in the new year in Paris - Flickr photo by viZZZual

There is also the new-year toast, which can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who shared wine from a common pitcher where the host drank first to ensure the wine was not poisoned.  Champagne has since become the toast of choice in the modern world.

Music has played its part in new year celebrations as well, and the song Auld Lang Syne became the song of the day after it was published in 1796, although there were several variations of Auld Lang Syne all the way back to the early 1700’s.

Perhaps the most famous New Year's Eve celebration is in Times Square in New York - Flickr photo by Paul Mannix

New Years is also the oldest holiday celebration and the only holiday celebrating the passage of time, as well as associated with making new year resolutions. 

I resolve to go white water rafting in West Virginia with my teen-aged son, as well as go horseback riding in the Virginia mountains and catch some major site-seeing in new York City.   One of my colleagues has stated she resolves to take a cruise to the Caribbean, Cayman Islands and Cozumel, while another wants to visit at least one small seemingly unknown tourist venue and one major tourist attraction in 2011.  

Flckr photo by katerha

Resolutions are not necessarily all about diets, or losing weight, quit smoking, etc, but can include fun things like seeing the beauty of nature, travelling throughout America and experiencing what the World has to offer in a variety of ways.  

What do you resolve to do in 2011?

[polldaddy poll=4365504]

Only 15 More Shopping Days Til’ Christmas . . . .

Posted: December 9th, 2010 by

Heralding in a new Holiday Shopping Season - Christmas Tree in front of Macy's - Flickr photo by Pravin-kumar

What a familiar statement that is.  Not to worry as there are numerous shopping opportunities; what with mega malls, discount outlet shopping centers, strip malls with large department stores and discount stores galore in most every city around.  If you are like many folks and simply don’t want to fight the crowds or just get out, you can turn on the tube and seek out gifts for everyone on Home Shopping Network and QVC or other similar TV shopping networks.  Plus, technology has pushed the envelope when it comes to shopping on the Internet.  New or used, you name it and you can find it on a variety of websites.

Some of our readers will remember planned shopping excursions, where for weeks you mapped out your trip to the big city to buy Christmas gifts.  It normally required an overnight stay in a hotel or nearby inn and often included a special meal at your favorite out-of-town restaurant.  Up early in the morning to beat the crowds with a shop until you drop attitude . . . then laden with gifts galore you return to your home-away-from -home; tired, but pleased that you found that special gift for Aunt Mary, Cousin Jane and Grandpa.

Going to the big city for shopping was a treat - Flickr photo of Washington, DC at Christmastime by ktlerconk

Part of the phenomenon of Christmas shopping from afar was the gaiety of sparkling tinsel and twinkling lights, seeing a larger than life Christmas tree and simply being part of the bustling Christmas shopping crowd.

Today, there are more reasons to leave the sofa or laptop to shop – mega malls are not just filled with retail establishments but many house amusement parks, hotels, and are considered tourist destinations.  Here are some stats when it comes to these mega shopping opportunities.  Eight of the 10 largest malls in the world are located in Asia, so if you really want a shopping experience of a life time you might want to travel to Dongguan, China, where the South China Mall is said to be the largest mall in the world.  This mall has it all; a replica of France’s Arc de Triomphe, working wind mills, a theme park, and has a whopping 7.1 million square feet of space to its name. 

If you want to ride the waves or experience the thrill of a towering roller coaster, then Cevahir Istanbul in Turkey is the place to go.  Considered the largest mall in Europe, Cevahir features a wave pool, roller coaster and several IMAX theatres plus a bevy of shops to meet the needs of even the most persnickety shopper.

Rollercoaster shown is in the West Edmonton Mall, Alberta, Canada - Wikimedia photo

Mall of America, Flickr photo by cliff1066

For those U.S. shoppers who want to be a little closer to home, then the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada might just be the ticket for the whole family.  With 3.8 million square feet of shopping and entertainment space, including a casino, skating rink, water park, a petting zoo and other attractions, this mega mall rivals some of the best and largest.  Let’s not forget the Mall of America, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where forty million visitors a year visit to shop at more than 500+ stores, visit the Underwater Aquarium Adventure, Lego Imagination Center and Dinosaur Walk Museum or party hardy in one of their seven nightclubs.

The town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber - Flickr photo by Alaskan Dude

Lifesize nutcracker in Rothenburg Christmas Store - Flickr photo by Alaskan Dude

Not into mega malls, and simply want to get caught up in the spirit of Christmas?  Dating all the way back to the 14th century is Germany’s Christkindlmarkt experience; a must do and see in towns like Dresden and Nuremberg.   Also, the Medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is famous for its Weihnachtsmarkt.  Even if you don’t buy a thing, just touring this romantic town, whose history goes back as far as 970 AD, with its uneven cobblestone streets, aged half-timbered houses and an imposingly thick wall of stone that surrounds the city, will leave you with a feeling of good will and cheer.

Last but not least are those home-spun Christmas -bazaars, put on by churches and non-profit organizations galore, where crafters and artisans of all kinds put out their one-of-a-kind treasures or cloned home-made articles of all types.  You won’t want to miss these delightful, in-your-backyard shopping opportunities, where often times this is where you find that special gift found no where else. 

Happy holidays everyone – and happy shopping to you!

[polldaddy poll=4215718]

Another Type of Tourism . . .

Posted: November 29th, 2010 by

Escanaba in Da Moonlight - Flickr photo by Elizabeth-table4five - photo also seen in the Michigan Historical Museum

Apparently hunting season marks the beginning of scruffy looking men with scraggly beards, or so it may seem.  This is especially true when deer season rolls around, no matter the locale.  One might assume it might be a form of camouflage or that it helps retain warmth on a cold drizzly day; often the case in November and December when hunters are traipsing about the woods.

Regardless of the scruffy looking folks, from a tourism standpoint hunting could mean an increase in business; albeit short lived, especially at a time when travel is slow.  Although many hunters may not require overnight lodging or they may opt to rent a hunting lodge in a known hunting area, hunting season does spell additional tourism dollars.

I looked up the Hunting Top 10 and learned that Ripley, West Virginia might be your go to place for turkey hunting or further south in Snow Hill, North Carolina you could easily bag a wild boar or black bear, and in Ahoskie, North Carolina spring turkey and duck are hunting specialties.  How about trophy white tail deer, with some bucks reaching up to 300 lbs.?  You might want to travel to Johannesburg, Michigan for this opportunity.

Flickr photo, wild turkey, black_throated_green_warbler

There’s plenty of duck hunting in Boswell, Oklahoma and Pike County, Illinois is known for its trophy whitetail deer and turkey hunts.  Elk, Mule Deer and Exotics can be found in Albuquerque, New Mexico, while Georgetown, Kentucky is well known for its water fowl in this central Kentucky area.

Jackson County Courthouse in Ripley, WV - Flickr photo by puroticorico

Tourism comes in many forms, and hunting is one of them.  No matter the reason you visit an area it still gains exposure and often times you might visit for one reason but return for another.  In the case of Ripley, West Virginia; here is an area steeped in civil war history, so while some might hunt deer, others might hunt the past.

How about the North Carolina area, which abounds in natural beauty where more people travel to this part of the country for pure nature than to hunt.   Although the photo of the flight of ducks was actually taken in Granville Island, Vancouver, BC, this could be a site seen in Bowsell, Oklahoma.  This small Midwestern town not only offers a duck hunting paradise, but a bit of serenity as well. 

Duck Hunt, Flickr photo by Icon Photopraphy School

While we might not understand why the Grizzly Adams look is typical for some at this time of year, perhaps Escanaba in Da Moonlight, termed as the “funniest play ever written about Deer hunters in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula” might explain it all. 

All we ask is that you come back for a visit when the hunt is over!